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Thursday, December 18, 2003

Sharon's Speech

PM Sharon just finished his speech at the Hertzeliya conference. I would summarize as follows: Israel is committed to the road map and the creation of a democratic Palestinian state. But we are waiting for the Palestinians to take actions to stop terror. We are not willing to wait forever, so in a few months, we will start moving unilaterally towards a solution. This will involve evacuating certain communities in Yesha in order to form a retreat line for the IDF. It will continue to be an option for the Palestinians to return to the road map, but they may get less than they would have gotten now.

The problem as I see it with Sharon's plan is that we can't really tell the difference between what Israel will do if the Palestinians cooperate and if they don't. In fact, the latter sounds worse for us and better for them. If they decide to go along with the road map, we will pull out of Yesha communities and support creation of a peaceful, democratic state in the areas from which we withdrew. If they don't go along with the road map, we will also pull out of Yesha towns (albeit perhaps fewer), and leave it the remaining areas a lawless mob, still committed to terror. Either way, we have withdrawals from Yesha communities, and the IDF guarding a border somewhere in the West Bank. What is the difference? Only that in the latter, we can't even pretend to think that terrorism will stop.

I am very happy to hear Sharon say that we won't wait forever. We've been begging the Arabs to accept a state west of the Jordan ever since the Peel commission in 1937, and 66 years later,we are still begging, to no avail. There has to be a limit. And at the point at which we decide to draw the line, we need to make strong gestures to indicate this. But why is the gesture, dismantling Jewish communities in Yesha, the same "painful concession" that we'd make if the Arabs agreed to the road map? Why not do something that shows that we are moving irrevocably in the opposite direction?

A good gesture would be to annex certain areas which we anyway know we will not give up, such as Maale Adumim or Gush Etzion. And, it would not be unreasonable, if this land would include an Arab village, to dismantle that village. People will say this is the start of "transfer," but what is it called when we do the same to a Jewish community?

The reason the two "alternatives" are exactly the same is that we can't seem to think of anything else. The only goal we know is a Palestinian state. We want a Palestinian state so badly that we'll even create one without the Palestinians! Maybe it's time to start considering what our alternative is, the alternative that would be in our interest. Maybe it's time to get back to pursuing the cause of the Jewish state.


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